Golkar Party politicians vying for the party's top post have suggested that they would reverse Golkar's role as an opposition party should they succeed to unseat incumbent chairman Aburizal Bakrie in the party's upcoming leadership race.
Speaking as a representative for Golkar deputy chairman Agung Laksono, who has declared his intention to run as a Golkar chairman candidate, the spokesperson for Agung's campaign team, Lamhot Sinaga, said Agung, if elected as Golkar chairman, would prevent the party from making excessive political maneuvers and instead focus on consolidating Golkar's resources to win the 2019 elections.
"Pak Agung's priority is to reclaim Golkar's glory. We used to be an election winner but we only managed to secure 106 seats in the House of Representatives in the 2009 general election and 91 seats in this year's election. Such declining support is worrisome," Lamhot said on Monday in a press conference.
Another campaign team member, Sabil Rahman, said Golkar's recent decision to become an opposition force along with four other political parties in the Red-and-White Coalition would potentially harm the party's internal consolidation mainly due to its long history as a part of the ruling government.
"The decision [to join the coalition] will go against the aspirations of many Golkar regional executives," Sabil, a deputy chairman of Golkar Party youth wing Indonesian Young Generation for Renewal (AMPI), said.
Currently, Aburizal represents Golkar as the coordinator of the coalition.
In a separate press gathering, Golkar lawmaker Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita even said that he would lead Golkar to jump ship to the ruling coalition led by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
"There are some issues in Golkar that need to be overhauled immediately. I believe my leadership would bring changes to the party," he said.
Golkar's latest congress in 2009 gave Aburizal the party leadership until the party's next scheduled congress to elect a new chairman in 2015.
Many on the central board and in the regional chapters, however, seem poised to unseat Aburizal before his term expires mainly due to his failure to secure a win for Golkar in April's legislative election.
Aburizal's decision to support the unsuccessful presidential bid of Gerindra Party's Prabowo Subianto has also landed Golkar outside the ruling circle for the first time in the party's 50 year history,
Should rival factions succeed in toppling Aburizal, Golkar would likely join the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the election winner, and its coalition partners - the NasDem Party, the National Awakening Party (PKB), the Hanura Party and the United Development Party (PPP) - in the government.
Apart from Agung and Agus, five other politicians - lawmakers Airlangga Hartarto and Zainudin Amali, party executive Hajriyanto Thohari, former industry minister MS Hidayat and former lawmaker Priyo Budi Santoso - have also declared that they will challenge Aburizal in the party's upcoming national congress, whose schedule is expected to be announced this month.
Last week, the seven politicians issued a joint statement demanding the party's central board run the chairmanship election in "honest, transparent and accountable ways" to follow up reports from a number of Golkar regional executives who claimed that they had been intimidated by members of the party's central board to support Aburizal's reelection bid.
In a recent interview, Golkar deputy secretary-general Lalu Mara Satriawangsa, who is also an Aburizal close aide, denied such an allegation.